A grieving wife bids her final farewell to her young, dead husband with a kiss when he surprises her by blinking. Nola Sword is having a mother-daughter weekend with her daughter Kelly while her husband Fred and his best friend are up at their cabin fishing.
The two are busy making cookies when Nola’s phone rings. Nola drops the flower she was holding before she picks up her cell phone. Caller ID tells her it’s Fred, but when she answers the phone, it isn’t his voice on the other side, and the words she hears destroy her.
Nola recognizes Jamie’s voice on the line. “It’s James. I’m so sorry, but Fred… something’s happened to Fred, James.” Nola Gaston feels a giant hand clench around her heart. “What’s happened? Is Fred hurt?” “No, honey,” said Fred’s best friend gently. “I’m sorry, Nola honey. You have to be brave. Fred’s dead.” “No!” Nola screams.
“Stop it, James! This is a bad joke!” But in her heart, Nola knows it isn’t a joke, and big, burly James, who had been Fred’s best friend since the first grade, is crying like a baby. “Well, I’m so sorry. He was next to me, and then he was just gone.
In a strange, numb fog, Nola calls her mother and asks her to come over and sit with Callie. Then Nola drives the two hours up to the mountains to meet James at the coroner’s office in the small town near which they had their cabin. With James’ arms around her shoulders, Nola stands like a statue as the coroner draws back the white sheet to expose Fred’s still face. Nola feels hot tears burn their way down her cheeks. “From what I can ascertain, Mr.
Sword had a massive heart attack and died instantly,” the coroner said. “However, I do recommend you have an autopsy performed by a pathologist.” “Never!” screams Nola. “No one’s gonna cut up my Fred!
Let him rest in peace!” The coroner sighs. “Mrs. Stewart, I do understand. Unless you have a death certificate, you can’t proceed with a funeral.
Nola is trembling. “A funeral? Fred always said he wanted to be cremated. I want everything to be as he would have wanted.” James helps Nola organize Fred’s body’s transportation home, and the next day, their family and their many friends come to pay their last tribute to the fun-loving, energetic young man they loved.
Nola has asked the funeral director to leave the casket open so they can all say their final goodbyes. One by one, the mourners approach the casket, whisper one last message, and say their prayers. The priest speaks movingly about Fred. “Even though our hearts are sore, even though we grieve for our loss, let us always remember that Fred has left this world for a better one and that he is now in his father’s loving hands.” Canola is inconsolable.
Her mom puts her arms around her and tries to comfort her, and the funeral director advances with his assistant to take Fred’s coffin to the crematorium. Nola pulls away from her mother. “Wait!” she cries. “Please let me say goodbye.
Nola walks up to the casket and leans over to caress Fred’s face with trembling fingers. “I love you. I’ll always love you,” she whispers, and she gently kisses him, the last kiss she’ll share with the man she wanted to grow old with. As she looks down at Fred, Nola sees something incredible. Fred blinks.
“I’m mad,” Nola thinks. “I want him back so much I’m hallucinating.” But then Fred’s eyelids flutter again, and Nola screams, “He’s alive! Oh my God, call 911!” The funeral director, who thinks Nola is imagining it all in her grief, steps forward and sees Fred’s eyes open and close again.
He turns to his assistant and orders him to call 911 or find a doctor or anything. Fred is transferred from his coffin to the ambulance and taken to the hospital with Nola by his side. The doctor confirms that Fred is alive but that something has plunged him into a deep coma, so the inexperienced small-town coroner had believed him to be dead.
After several tests, the doctors reveal that Fred had been stung by a bee and had a violent allergic reaction to the venom, so violent he appeared to be dead. Fortunately for Fred, Nola had refused an autopsy or a traditional funeral, for which he would have been subjected to an embalming process.
Under medical care, Fred recovers from his horrific experience. He is home within days, as lively as ever, but Nola never forgets her anguish and the horror of seeing him laid out in his coffin. For Nola, it was a miracle, a second chance given to their family by a compassionate God.